The problem with public rhetoric surrounding this issue is that when we ask “What’s at Stake in the Marriage Debate?” (as does this article in the Charlotte Observer), the answer – “1,100 Benefits” – is meant to make us support marriage instead of question it. Readers are supposed to agree that “everyone” should have access to these benefits, when in fact we should be asking, why should my marital status determine whether or not I have access to benefits that others don’t?
Until we stop talking about marriage as though it has to do with love, popular discourse will not change. Shifting our focus to the “unromantic” realities of marriage – recognizing the various privileges that are granted through marriage – is the only way in which we can begin to deconstruct the institution and the benefits tied to it. It is the only way in which human equality, between marrieds and unmarrieds, can be achieved.